We caught up with Harvey Guillen, you may know him as Cousin Blobbin from ‘The Thundermans’ BENEDICT PICWICK from Syfy’s ‘The Magicians‘! Harvey discusses discovering he wanted to become and actor at age 6, the audition process for ‘The Thundermans’ and ‘The Magicians’. If you’re wondering what he does when he’s not on set, he talks about his passion for photography and his behind the scenes projects. Harvey Guillen is truly a force to be reckoned with as he is breaking stereotypes and confidently taking over Hollywood.
Spy News Magazine: Throughout the years you have appeared on several projects in television and film. What has been your favorite role or project to work on?
Harvey Guillen: My favorite role/projects to work on would be a couple things. My heart belongs to my first series regular which is Alistair for ABC Family‘s ‘HUGE’. It was a character that I’m not usually playing, I don’t play quiet and shy so playing that was actually a nice challange. I also liked playing George on MTV‘s ‘Eye Candy‘. .
Spy News Magazine: You’ve worked on ‘Young & Hungry‘, ‘The Thundermans‘ and “CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND” ” iZombie” how did those roles come about?
Harvey Guillen: So ‘Thundermans‘ was really funny because the audition was for a character that was gonna be in one episode, that had two lines. I remember my agents were like … “maybe don’t go in for it”. I asked well what’s the character and they said he’s a member of the family at a funeral. I said “Family never goes away….” I went in and I booked it and I’ve been recurring in that show for four years from a one day audition.
Spy News Magazine: We hear you’re one of the favorite characters!
Harvey Guillen: Oh Really? (Laughs) Yeah, Blobbin is one of my favorites too – when I shot the first episode they let me do some improv. The director and their producers are so nice. JED SPINGARN (the creator) and Patty Cox who’s a producer on the show let me play with the character and two weeks later wrote a whole episode just for Cousin Blobbin. I went away and shot ‘Eye Candy‘ and they welcomed me back. They’re like family to me. We just started the fourth season, I’m excited!
Spy News Magazine: You have several projects for next year’s release, what can you tell us about them?
Harvey Guillen: I’m really excited for ‘Status Update‘ with my buddies Ross Lynch, Olivia Holt and Brec Bassinger. Gregg Sulkin is in it, . It was like a camp. It was all the people you liked and get along with. It was really hard because we were there for two months but you get really close with them. Made a new friend, he’s a Canadian actor -Markian Tarasiuk. You meet people from around the world!
Spy News Magazine: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Harvey Guillen: I knew I wanted to become an actor when I was six years old. My school was doing a play and I saw a dog costume and I was like “What’s that?!”. They were like “It’s for our school play”. Then I was like “Woah!…Can I be in the school play?” So I auditioned and they were like you’re really loud, you should be an actor. They said we want you to be the lead in the show but I wanted to be the dog. I fought to play the role I wanted – it wasn’t the lead, I was the dog. You know, everyone remembers the dog!
Spy News Magazine: Do you have any type of limits as to the type of roles you would take on?
Harvey Guillen: I don’t have any limits to the roles that I would play because someone just brought to my attention that I’m really good at taking on roles that are completely different from my self. I play a superhero. On Lady Gaga’s music video I was approached to play a rapist, I never thought I would play that. It made me uncomfortable to even think to play. That’s somewhere as an actor I didn’t want to go. I told myself as an actor that’s your job. You’re going to have to go to uncomfortable places because you know, my discomfort is someone else’s silence.
On the SYFY movie STATUS UPDATE I got done playing an 18 year old student, it just varies every day. I just went in for an Israeli secret agent who has a british accent. It’s easy to stereotype someone, it’s easy to put them in a cage and say you’re going to play the chubby best friend and you’re always gonna be that. That’s not the real world. Not all chubby people are jolly and not all thin people are mean and shallow . This stigma that we have to break away from. In Hollywood we’re the forefront of it. I like to be part of breaking those molds.
Spy News Magazine: You talked briefly about this but how do you as a person different from the characters you take on?
Harvey Guillen: I think I’m pretty different than the characters I play specially with my first break ‘HUGE‘. I’m definitely not like Alistair, I have elements of Alistair but I’m not like a pushover, I speak my mind. I think every character I put a little bit of myself into. Sometimes for some of the characters I try to not even open up at all to it. Going back to the Lady Gaga music video, that was the hardest thing I had to do thus far because I did it with Nicki Reed who’s an amazing human being and we had to rehearse the scene of sexual assault. So me as Harvey I’m screaming in my head stop, stop don’t do this and the character is continuing to do it. There’s nothing worse than hearing in your head you as your psyche saying “what are you doing?”, “stop, this is wrong” and your body and mind already in character like nonstop. They say dance lightly with your demons because you can’t give into them. If I’m gonna go into a dark role I can’t completely follow deep because it’s a dark hole. Specially with those characters – murderers…look at Heath Ledger. Look at the great performance but you can get that performance close enough that you don’t completely fall into the dark hole.
Spy News Magazine: Do you take on behind the scenes projects along with the on screen roles?
Harvey Guillen: Yeah, for the longest time I was waiting for the next role. So now I like to do my own work and I like to write my own projects. I have writing partners like Kiersey Clemons, we’re pitching different shows around town because we also hear a voice that’s not being filled. Specially with millennials and what not. There’s a voice that’s now slowly getting heard and we want to be a part of that. Creating work that we can see ourselves portraying, something that we would never be casted in. Also, maybe give the opportunity. Kiersey is big on this as well as I am, we like to see more people of ethnic backgrounds be on television and film. I create my own content because I got tired of waiting for someone to say “you’re good enough” to play something.
Spy News Magazine: So you want to bring to light to ethnically diverse talent, is there any other subjects or issues?
Harvey Guillen: I want to be able to bring to light that we need to break away from the stereotypes of Hollywood. Different body types can play different roles. That’s a big thing for me. Different body types can be beautiful, different body types can be dangerous. We need to get away from this sterotype because that’s not reality, that’s not the real world. Nina Simone said this “An artists job, as far as I’m concerned, is to portray current times.” and that’s what we should do. Sometimes especially with the recent election..those times can be uncertain and scary to think about. But its our job to keep going.
Spy News Magazine: Does the Hollywood scene ever become distracting for your career?
Harvey Guillen: I think for me “the Hollywood scene” comes with the territory. I feel like of you’re here for a reason, you’re focused. You kind of have a job to do. You can go and party and have a good time cause those are perks that come with the job. Also sometimes, I don’t want to go out. Sometimes I don’t want to dress up and go to an event, I just want to stay home, watch Netflix and cuddle. Not go out. Those things actually are appealing, I think you’ll find more and more actors who say that. They’re not just like “I wanna go to every club”. Those things are fun but after a while you’re like – it’s not an everyday thing.
Spy News Magazine: Can you recall a moment when you wanted to switch career paths?
Harvey Guillen: I don’t think I can recall a moment when I wanted to switch what I wanted to do. I’ve known I wanted to be an actor since I was 6. I remember asking my parents for an acting class when I was 7 or 8 at the YMCA. It was like $12.50 for like four of them, once a week for an hour. It was really like a couple bucks per class. My mom said no, we can’t afford that. I remember saying “what? It’s not for like candy, I want to go take an acting class.” She said we couldn’t afford it. It was because in the Latino culture it seemed like it’s a waste of time. Going into the entertainment industry is risky. Going into any industry is risky. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get your PhD and become and amazing doctor, you might get sued for your first surgery. There’s nothing gueranteed in life, the only thing guaranteed is death and even then God makes arrangements. I remember telling my mom, “If I get the money can I take an acting class?” and she was like “Umm sure, you’re 7”. I had to figure out how to make money. I remember one day, I noticed that at the Vons down the street you can go to the recycling center and get cans checked in and get money back. I got a coat hanger from my mom’s closet, unwinded it and everyday after school for probably 2 weeks I went through trash cans at the park to get cans and then I got enough money to take my YMCA class.
Spy News Magazine: What characteristics make a well rounded actor?
Harvey Guillen: Tenacity. I always say this town is full of talent. It’s a dime a dozen. You have to remember, everyone that comes to Hollywood was the lead in their school play. They move out after high school and then they go to college and they were the lead in their plays. So when they come here they were the stars of their small town, in the middle of nowhere. You’re coming to compete with all the the stars from all over the world.
photo credit: Tracy Birdsell
Every little town and you’re competing with all of them. If you don’t have a backbone and you don’t have thick skin then you might as well stay in that small town because it’s a tough business. On that same note, go for it. My motto when I was growing up was (I had nothing, I came from nothing) I have nothing so I have nothing to loose. I was like, I’m gonna do it. If I fall on my face, I fought. You had to pull me away from it. You have to drag me out of here before I can say I gave up because talent is a dime a dozen. I have tons of friends who are like amazing singers but they go to one audition and they don’t get it, they’re heartbroken. Do you know that actors hear more No’s in one week than most people hear for job interviews in a lifetime? You gotta be strong. If you don’t have the backbone it’s a tough business but on the same note go for it.
Spy News Magazine: What are other interests that you have that other people don’t necessarily know about?
Harvey Guillen: I really like photography, I have an eye for things. I just feel like eventually I would want to do some kind of photography series. I just have vision for things. My mind just works in different ways, with colors and shadows. I’m really into shadows. I like the ocean. I like swimming, most people don’t assume I’d be an active swimmer. I’m a big theatre goer. I love to support the thespians on stage. I like where the craft comes from.
Young and Hungry
Spy News Magazine: What’s the best part about working on ‘The Magicians’?
Harvey Guillen: Everyone was super nice, I like how they intertwined this world of magic into this sci-fi world. The dialogue is very much in the moment. The show reminds me of a combination of ‘Harry Potter‘ meets ‘Game of Thrones‘. the writers are awesome and the director is amazing. It’s a welcoming cast. I was shooting ‘Status Update’ while I booked that and I couldn’t ask for a better return to Vancouver.
Spy News Magazine: What was the audition process like for the magicians?
Harvey Guillen: I was about to wrap ‘Status Update‘ movie that comes out next year and my agent called and said, “Are you off tomorrow? There’s an audition for a character that shoots out there.” So I go in. I get the call that I booked it (the next day on Thursday) and then we wrapped ‘Status Update’ on Friday. I went home for 48 hours (Saturday & Sunday), come back Sunday night to start filming Monday. It was perfect, as an actor that’s all you can ask for – going from one job to the next with no breaks in between.
Photo credit: Isaac James
Spy News Magazine: What’s your character like?
Harvey Guillen: My character is Benedict Picwick. The actual show is based on the books, it’s a trilogy. They’re following the books but also loosely not following it because if you’ve read the books, I don’t want to give too much away, something major happens to Benedict. We’ll have to wait and see if they actually take that route with him but if you follow the books, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read the books, you should go read the them and then tune into syfy and watch ‘The Magicians’.
Spy News Magazine: If there’s one superpower or spell you could do over and over, what would it be?
Harvey Guillen: If there was one superpower I could have I think I’d love to fly. I get excited when I zip line (Laughs) just going over things. Could you imagine if you could actually just pick anywhere and just fly away?! If I could do a spell that was positive and I could do it over and over, I would do the spell of healing. What a great power to have, that I could just heal with touch. If it’s sorrow, cancer – I’d just heal it.
Spy News Magazine: Are you into fashion?
Harvey Guillen: Yeah, I’m into fashion. I’ve been put on like some best dressed plus size actors in Hollywood list. I think it’s such a cool movement where body positivity is a forefront right now. Guys are taking charge of if they’re big they don’t have to look like they’re in a potato sack.
Eye Candy (TV series)
I feel like there’s a stigma that if you’re a big guy there aren’t many options which you know there isn’t in the fashion world but you have the power to put something together that you like and makes you comfortable. It’s all about being comfortable, if you feel comfortable in your own skin and the way you are then dress it up! If you’re not comfortable in your own skin then do something to change it but if you are there’s no reason why you should be told to feel shame for the way you look by society. If you’re comfortable the way you are, then show it off the way you are!
Spy News Magazine: Do you have any favorite designers?
Harvey Guillen: Yeah! This is biased because I’m actually friends with him but I really like Ashton Michael. I like his designs, he designs for Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Adam Lambert, Will.i.am., the top people. I’m so blessed to call him a friend. His stuff is just amazing, I like the way he looks at the lining and the way he crosses things over in layers. It’s what I think we will be wearing in the future.
Interview by Monica Soriano, photo: Rachid Ait